EW DELHI: The government has asked state-run lenders to identify potential bottlenecks in 50-odd newly sanctionedinfrastructure projects, seeking to fast track projects with a total outlay of Rs 1 lakh crore and involving firms such as HPCL-Mittal,Petronet, L&T, Ansal and PFC.
The idea is to ensure that these projects take off smoothly, a finance ministry official said, adding that Finance Minister P Chidambaram is likely to hold a review meeting on the status of the stalled projects by the end of this month. "Banks have sanctioned around Rs 12,000 crore for these projects. We are not expecting them to work out the fine print, but since they have appraised these projects they can point out any possible irritants," said the official, who did not wish to be named.
The ministry is also looking at an effective coordination mechanism with the special cell in the Cabinet Secretariat to push big-ticket investments. The cell is headed by additional secretary Anil Swarup, who has started meeting chief secretaries of state governments on the issue. "They (special cell) have set up a portal through which they have collated some more information directly from the companies. We want all parties involved, including banks, to be aware of the latest status of these projects," the official said.
The banks will also take up the concerns in their state-level banker committee meetings for better coordination among themselves and with respective state governments. "There have been cases where some minor issues fall under the domain of respective state governments; bringing them on board will help fast-track the process," said the official. The banks have so far disbursed about Rs 3,000 crore to some of the newly-sanctioned projects.
The ministry had worked out a list of 98 stalled projects at the regional level with a total outlay of Rs 5 lakh crore, for which banks have sanctioned over Rs 1.7 lakh crore. Bankers say it will reduce the burden of non-performing assets and enable them to give fresh loans if a few of the stalled projects get cleared. "At present, we cannot disburse the existing loans due to fear that these may turn into bad loans. If there is any movement, fresh sanctions can also be considered," said an executive director with a state-run bank.
The finance minister had earlier this month said that he had told the banks to cooperate with the special cell. "Wherever the banks have to do something to get the stalled projects off the ground, the banks will do it...The goal is to get 20-30 stalled projects off the mark and reach commencement operation date by the end of this month," Chidambaram had said, adding that a certain stalled projects should get implemented every month.